Mitten Brewing Company’s theme is baseball, but each September, they step up to a tee instead of a plate to fight hunger. This year, their Third Annual Golf Outing for Hunger raised a whopping $25,000!
So many people showed up to participate that the golf course reached occupancy capacity, and they had to start turning people away. In the end, 188 people came together to create 48 golf teams.
The brewery is passionate about serving its neighbors, so the Mitten Foundation supports various local causes including hunger relief.
Chris, one of the brewery’s owners, explained how one afternoon spent volunteering “was all it took to see there was significant food insecurity across every demographic” in their neighborhood and that they needed to do something about it.
$15,000 of the money raised went to Feeding America West Michigan to fund the Mobile Food Pantry program at Sibley, Stocking and Harrison Park elementary schools near the brewing company’s original location, and at Fennville Elementary near the brewery’s newest location in Saugatuck.
Mobile Food Pantries provide a farmers market experience for people facing hunger, and schools are a great place to host them. Many students, parents and at-risk community members benefit from the food distributions. Thanks to this funding, 27 Mobile Food Pantries will serve Westside Grand Rapids and Fennville neighbors – providing the equivalent of 112,500 meals.
The remaining $10,000 was given to Kids’ Food Basket, and will be used to provide 10,000 sack suppers for students at Sibley Elementary School.
Often, parents in need sacrifice their own meals in order for their children to eat. Sack suppers help alleviate this issue and allows families to allocate more money for other necessities.
On average, 47 percent of children receive free and reduced lunch in Kent County. The elementary students at Sibley, Stocking and Harrison Park, however, are particularly at risk of going hungry, with more than 85 percent receiving free and reduced lunch. In Allegan County, Fennville Elementary is in a similar situation: On average, 41 percent of children in Allegan receive free and reduced lunch, while 73 percent of Fennville students do.
Mitten Brewing is doing more than providing food for their neighbors facing hunger. They are actually going to the Mobile Pantries they fund to deliver fresh baked pizzas – their specialty – and to connect with their neighbor’s face-to-face.
The Mitten Foundation’s President, Dana, frequently volunteers at these events, and recalled an impactful story of an elderly woman she met. The woman had grabbed Dana’s hand – after expending what Dana recalled as a “great deal of effort” to stand up – and told her that, without the Mobile Food Pantries, she wouldn’t have food to eat.
The woman went on to describe how her fixed income didn’t stretch far enough to pay for medical bills she’d accrued after a car accident. She was left with just $20 a month to spend on food.
Fortunately, the woman can attend Mobile Food Pantries held at schools on the Westside of Grand Rapids. She receives fresh produce, dairy and other items that help keep her fridge and pantry stocked.
Dana usually leaves the Mobile Pantries glad to help others, but said interacting with the elderly neighbor made her realize it’s easy to feel a bit “full of myself for the good we’re able to do.”
The interaction reminded her that:
“It’s a matter of life and death for some people,” she said. “Being able to step in and offer help at that time of need isn’t hard. It’s just human.”
Feeding America West Michigan is continually inspired by Mitten Brewing Co.’s dedication to fighting hunger in its neighborhoods, and couldn’t be more thankful to be able to work with them.